The BBC Charter Review and associated Green Paper represent one of – if not the most – serious attack on old Auntie throughout her 90+ year history. The right-wing Conservative Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale, is of course an outspoken critic of the BBC – having previously cast doubt on the viability of the licence fee and suggested “introducing an element of choice”. In other words: kowtowing to market (or capital) demands. Indeed, whilst the Green Paper is keen to praise the BBC’s historic role, its proposals are based on a narrow assumption about “market needs” and perceived threats to commercial media. Whatever happened to meeting the needs of “citizens” rather than “consumers”, or even the need for plurality and diversity to ensure a functioning democracy? Sure, there is a lot about the BBC that could be improved, but this should be addressed through the prism of “public service” rather than “the market”.
Even the short consultation period seemed designed to deter any meaningful response or objection to its mission. However, as the plethora of recent publications on the BBC and this bumper issue of Three-D can contest, threatening old Auntie has people exercised!
It is important that as an academic community – regardless of our individual position on the Corporation – we make a vocal contribution to the debates about the BBC’s future. This Three-D contains a letter to Whittingdale signed by 376 academics expressing concern about the narrow framing of the Green Paper, and we also reproduce in full the MeCCSA response to the DCMS consultation.
There is still time to make your voice heard if you haven’t already. The DCMS consultation deadline is 8th October 2016, and hopefully the authors in this issue will provide some inspiration to make your own submission! Either in response to the Green Paper, or to the Lord Puttnam Inquiry on public service television more broadly.
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